Byline: Rachael Alexander
Have you tried a gazillion and one diets only to find that you never stick with anything? I certainly have, and I’ve even made myself feel guilty about the whole ordeal. I’ve been a strict vegetarian, a strict vegan, and even a strict raw vegan, and each time I’ve “fallen off the wagon”.
Now I personally don’t believe that there is a wagon that you can fall off of, and that life is more like a flowing river. And like the river that has many twists and turns so to will your diet or what you choose to put into your body. I’ve learned to let go of the strictness of it all, and ditch the religion of any one diet (which is a continual journey) and learn to do one thing: listen to my body. Another thing I’ve also found is that it doesn’t matter which diet you choose, every diet should include fruits and veggies.
In the process I’ve educated myself and as a health coach know a lot about different diets and ways of eating. But even before I became a health coach the one thing that stayed consistent and has kept me at optimum health is listening to my body.
Here are some things I learned to help you do the same.
Diets Low in Processed Foods, Dairy, and Gluten
What makes me feel awesome no matter the diet, is consuming lots of fruits and vegetables. I’ve learned that whether I call myself a vegan, vegetarian, raw foodist etc., what makes me feel freaking amazing are whole fruits and vegetables. I’ve also learned by listening to my body that consuming a lot of processed foods that are high in dairy, gluten, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and all the other no-no’s as it concerns a raw vegan diet makes me feel less than awesome.
I’m not strict, and of course living in American society, I do sometimes consume processed foods if I’m in a sticky situation or feel like “cheating”, but for the most part it’s whole fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts & seeds, and other non-animal protein like tofu or tempeh. I don’t want to tell you what diet you should choose, but I’d like to give you some brief information on a few diets that are low in processed foods and high in whole foods.
The following diets are taken from Integrative Nutrition by Joshua Rosenthal from Chapter 4 on Dietary Theory (a great book and read).
A vegan diet is one that is consisting of fruits, vegetables, lots of leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. This diet also abstains and restricts all animal products and by-products including dairy, eggs, and honey. Veganism rejects the commodity status of sentient animals, followers often extend this principle into all areas of their lives and oppose the use of animals or animal products in any way.
5 Element Theory
A 5 element theory diet is one that originates from the ancient Chinese belief system that says that we are surrounded by five energy fields: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. Keeping these elements in balance promotes harmony in our surroundings, and in ourselves. This theory promotes eating foods from the five phases including grains, tubers, beans, vegetables, and fruits. It restricts meat, sugar, overly processed chemical foods, deep-fried foods, liquor, beer, and wine.
A raw food diet is one that consists of fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, nuts, sees, sprouted grains, and seaweed. It encourages that 75 percent of the diet must be raw and also that raw foods are foods that when cooked are cooked under heat no higher that 116 degree Fahrenheit. It restricts meats and dairy products.
The paleo diet derives from the philosophy that our bodies are designed to thrive on foods that were available to our early paleolithic ancestors from 10,000 years ago. It encourages foods that are grass-fed, pasture-raised meats, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts. It restricts grains (flour), beans, dairy products, potatoes, refined sugar, salt, and processed oils.
This diet is an ancient healing system from India that emphasizes eating in accordance with your individual body type and the seasons. The system promotes health and disease prevention through balancing the mind-body types (also known as doshas). This diet encourages that a basic meal should have something warm, something with protein, a salad and/or vegetables with good oil, spices and flavorings, a small sweet for dessert, walk, and rest. Each meal aims to cover all six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, astringent, and bitter. It restricts foods that are heavily processed, have excess sugar and caffeine, and that have large amounts of animal protein.
Macrobiotic means “great life”, and is based on the philosophy that it is best to eat only natural foods, and balancing the yin and yang in the body is important. It encourages whole grains, fresh vegetables, beans, soups, sea vegetables, and fish. It restricts dairy, meat, eggs, refined sugar products, chocolate, tropical fruits, coffee, hot spices, and nightshade vegetables.
There are so many more diets that exist out their and if you are interested you should definitely do some research, but I want to stress the importance of not adopting a diet over what your body is telling you. Your body knows best, and no dietary theory can replace its intelligence.
Listen To Your Body
Did you know that you have an internal healing and intelligence system within you? Your body knows exactly what makes it thrive and gives you the best energy, better moods, and allows you to live with vitality and abundance, all you have to do is listen to it. I discovered this when I started experimenting with different foods from all the diets I was trying. I would try a food and then pay attention to how it would make me feel after I consumed it. I concluded that if I didn’t feel awesome, more clear, more alert, or whatever ‘feel-good’ feeling I was going for then I didn’t need to consume it. It was really that simple.
Here are some clues to help you understand how to listen to your body. Experiment with some of the diets or foods mentioned above. Try different breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners. Keep a food diary for however long you plan on doing the experiment, I’d say at least 3-4 weeks. That way you can have a week dedicated to each of the experiments. Every time you consume a food item write down or take a mental note of how you feel after eating that food, then wait 2-3 hours and write down how you feel again. Do this for every meal.
Start to notice whether a food gives you gas, makes you feel bloated, gives you a boost that lasts, gives you a boost then a crash, makes you feel sleepy, makes you feel grouchy, or makes you feel moody. Now after the experiment is done circle all the foods that made you feel awesome, energetic, alive, and clear and aim to eat more of those foods. Simple.
Here’s a great smoothie recipe you can try for one of your experiments.
Glorious Green Smoothie Recipe
Serves 1-2 Depending on Your Appetite :)
- 1-2 pears
- 2 bananas
- 1 cup of compassionate milk (I’m using almond milk)
- 1 cup of kale
- 1 cup of pineapple
Add the kale and compassionate milk into your blender and blend until smooth. Then add the remaining fruits to the blender + some ice if you want it cold and blend until smooth. Then take a moment of gratitude and give thanks for this awesome delicious smoothie and enjoy!
Rachael Alexander is an Artist, Author, Health Coach, & Mosaic Soul. She is the creator of ENDIGO RAE, Home for Mosaic Souls: Individuals that are using their multifaceted nature to make their lives their art and masterpiece. ENDIGO RAE is a multi-platform lifestyle brand, online blog, and entertainment company that represents Rich Artistic Expression. It chronicles Rachael’s creations on how to be bold, be fearless, and be her most authentic self while helping others at the same time. On the journey to becoming our authentic selves, she focuses on life, health, creativity, and spirituality. Follow Rachael on Facebook, Instagram, and her Blog.